Professed anarchist and Enbridge pipeline adversary David Clow said he experienced the highs and lows of natural beauty when he pushed his wheelchair into Burns Lake last Wednesday.
“It felt like I was wheeling my wheelchair through a painting,” said Clow, shortly after he arrived in Burns Lake to a welcome reception from the Lakes District Clean Waters Coalition at the New Leaf Café. “Within a moment later my mouth drops open again at something that is at the exact opposite end of the spectrum. It this case it was your industrial park. I saw the timber mill and I saw the shiny aluminum smoke stacks and the structures that were so very out of place.”
The former staunch Conservative’s calloused hands and sun-burnt skin stretched over a hungry frame displays the war markings of a soldier in action. To protest the Northern Gateway pipeline, the 38-year-old incomplete quadriplegic is wheeling the 1400-kilometre proposed Enbridge pipeline route from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, B.C., this summer.
Clow said the act is merely an attempt to do some good. He said the 2010 G20 protests that featured violent confrontations between activists and police in Toronto, where he was preparing at the time to become a lawyer, changed his political leanings and forced him to think about what he wanted to be.
“I thought the most noble thing to do [and] the most pressing thing to do at the moment is to not do anything [and] resist,” he said. “That is what I decided to do. This is my act of resistance.”
Highway 16 is the path of opposition Clow is taking through B.C. and his description of the journey so far is up and down. He said the reception waiting for him at Burns Lake by the Lakes District Clean Waters Coalition is one that will warm his heart as he spends the coming days pushing towards his destination.
“This [ride] stripped me of my hope for humanity for a little bit, but then it reinforced it,” said Clow. “This right here [in Burns Lake] is a very organic thing, but it’s so important [and] integral to our futures that this thing happened, this community driven compassion.”